Flashdance was a cinematic guilty pleasure. A glorified music video with an implausible plot about a teenage welder aspiring to be a ballet dancer, redeemed by some slickly edited dance routines, and an Oscar-winning theme tune. It was a critical flop but made millions at the box office.
It has been reinvented as a musical, with 11 new songs brought to the fore as, previously, the pop sound track was really only backing for the dancing.
The story too has been fleshed out with a new declining economy arc. The mill is threatened with closure and the ballet school Alex (Victoria Hamilton-Barritt) aspires to join represents her only chance of a future that doesn’t involve a stage with a pole on it.
The star names in this touring show are ex-pop singer Noel Sullivan, who is tall, dark and charming as the nephew of the steel mill where Alex works and shows real presence as a leading man.
Former Corrie star Bruno Langley also impresses with a seedily desperate performance as the local delinquent Jimmy.
And the ever-reliable Bernie Nolan makes the most of her too few scenes as Alex’s self-secrificing mother who wants a better life for her daughter.
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is an all round talent as the fiery heroine, as skilled as she is singing and dancing as she is at acting.
But she is well matched by Ruthie Stephens as her naive co-dancer at the steel bar who is seduced by the owner of the local strip club with promises of getting her on MTV.
Yet despite all this the stage version simply doesn’t possess the visceral thrill of the film when it comes to its most important component, the dancing.
Victoria is rarely given the chance to break out into inventively choreographed solo set pieces. On Maniac she is restricted to doing glorified warm up exercises on a gantry above the stage.
Even in the famous audition scene the footwork is accomplished but just doesn’t carry the same impact as the oft-copied original (even though we know that was achieved by splicing together the moves of a breakdancer and gymnast).
This is a well-put together show. The performances are good, the American accents are flawless and the set, all rusting steel walls and tall grimy windows, has an industrial grace to it. But the dance...just isn’t flash enough.
* Running time: Two hours, 30 mins. Until Saturday.